A WOMAN accused of sex offences involving a male pupil, while working as a teaching assistant at his school, made a brief crown court appearance today (May 15).

Helen Louise Turnbull, who is 35 tomorrow (May 16), is alleged to have abused a position of trust as an adult by indulging in sexual activity with a teenage boy, knowing he was under 18.

The allegations stem from summer term last year when she worked at a school in County Durham.

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She first appeared before North Durham Magistrates’ Court, sitting at Peterlee, earlier this month, charged with four counts of sexual activity with a child in her care.

The magistrates declined jurisdiction and sent the case to Durham Crown Court, where a preliminary hearing in proceedings took place today.

No charges were put to Miss Turnbull during the short hearing.

Sarah Mallett, prosecuting, said a new indictment may be brought in the case to specify the individual incidents of sexual activity alleged by the Crown, from kissing to intercourse.

Judge Christopher Prince agreed that it may be preferable to distinguish what is alleged against the defendant.

Proceedings were adjourned to allow for further case preparation prior to a plea hearing scheduled to take place in ten weeks time, with a provisional date agreed for a trial of between two and three days, starting at the court, on November 10.

Judge Prince adjourned the hearing and granted extended conditional bail to the defendant, who must not contact prosecution witnesses, other than the police officer overseeing the inquiry, or have unsupervised contact with children under 18, unless directed by social services.

Miss Turnbull, of Church View, Haswell, in east Durham, must return to court for the plea and case management hearing, on Friday July 25.